Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On pain

"Pain exists for a reason. It's how your body, and your mind, tell you that something's not right. Ignore it at your peril. If there doesn't seem to be a reason for it, perhaps you're not looking hard enough. Or perhaps not in the right place. You won't find a physical cause for a non-physical problem, nor will you find the physical cause if you keep insisting it's all in the head."

My father went through idiots who wouldn't follow that advice after his accident. His right arm was numb, painful and showing all the signs of nerve damage. All the tests they ran confirmed nerve damage. But since none of the X-rays showed any physical cause for the damage, the doctors kept insisting there couldn't be any nerve damage. Until finally Mom brow-beat the insurance into getting an opinion from the surgeon who all the other doctors named as the guy they wanted if they had to have work done on their necks. He looked at everything and said "OK, all the tests show there's damage, if we can't see the cause from the X-rays we'll just have to open it up and poke around and see what the X-rays aren't showing.". And when he opened my father's neck up, there was a nice loud clatter as a vertebrae fell out in about 3 pieces, to which the surgeon commented "Well, that's the problem right there.". No sign on the X-rays, but the insurance couldn't argue with the bits of vertebrae on the desk. And Mom made a point of rubbing the noses of all those other doctors in the photos of the shattered vertebrae that they refused to look for.

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